Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jobs, jobs, and McDonalds 

MPR has been running a set of pieces on the state gubernatorial race's issues, and today's covers jobs.
"If you put these numbers in context, on a July-to-July basis, this is the most jobs added in the state of Minnesota, we believe, ever," Pawlenty said.

While the numbers were impressive, they weren't anywhere close to a state record, either in raw numbers or on a percentage basis.
Well, that's true when you put it in that context -- the Department of Employment and Economic Development has the data and you can play with it as you wish. Bob Collins interviews Steve Hine, the head of labor market information (and an acquaintance of mine, a very good economist) who shows that a good bit of the claims Pawlenty makes are rather myopic: True about the 2000s but not compared to the go-go 1990s. I have made several presentations around the St Cloud area to the same effect. Minnesota downshifted in 2000-01 to a lower growth rate for employment and we have only this year on a statewide basis (and not in St. Cloud, btw) returned to that level now.

That's not to say the economy is in poor shape. It's not; in fact, it is much better now than at the time of the previous election, so one can understand Pawlenty's cheery view.

Mike Hatch argues that the jobs are bad -- a fast-food economy -- and wages are depressed. The wages paid in covered industries (taken from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages) indicates that since Pawlenty came to office in 2002, nominal weekly wages rose from $720 to $785. In real terms, that increase was only $2.60 per week.

I had thought that was due to rotation out of manufacturing jobs in much of Minnesota, but not so -- those wages have only risen $11 per week in real terms, even after laying off many workers and supposedly streamlining more. So while one can say Pawlenty has oversold the economic numbers, I do not know what else could have been done.